Classic WoW & Me in 2022

I love that this end-of-year summary post has become a tradition, because every year I look back at the previous ones and every year so far my situation has been totally different 365 days later, in ways I never would've been able to predict.

Last year I was - after some struggles - quite happily playing Burning Crusade Classic, and hopeful for the near future, though I said even then: "Blizzard seems to want to push us through all the phases pretty quickly, so I reckon we'll either be in Sunwell or might even already be looking at a Classic Wrath of the Lich King by the end of the year. And what I'll do when that happens, I genuinely don't know."

What ended up happening in practice was that my guild fell apart in early spring, and Blizzard announced that there weren't going to be any BC era servers, which killed any and all motivation I had left to play BC Classic. I bummed around in retail for a bit until I made the decision to give Classic one last try by investing into Classic era, and I've been playing that ever since.

Giving an overview of my era characters is going to feel a bit weird when looking back at previous year-in-review posts, since their stats will be based on where they were at when era split off from BC one and a half years ago plus whatever time I've invested in them now, which means that Alliance characters in particular might look like they've effectively regressed since I last played them... but it is what it is.


So, thanks to the fact that I found myself invited to a friendly Horde guild soon after I started playing on era, my focus shifted back to Horde side for the first time since 2019.

Shika - Pyrewood Village

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 25 days, 11 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 300 (Gnomish) Engineering, 300 Cooking, 300 Fishing, 300 First Aid

The tauren hunter I originally created because all my friends abandoned me about a month into Classic has returned to being my main, and she's also the character that made the most progress this year, going from the hodgepodge mix of greens and blues pictured in my 2019 year-in-review post to a mix of tier 2 and 3.

I'm not sure she'll stay my main in the long run, but for now she's not going anywhere.

Shilu - PV

  • Level 60 Druid
  • 9 days, 20 hours played
  • 315 Herbalism, 300 Alchemy, 300 Cooking, 246 Fishing, 300 First Aid
Not much to say about this one, considering that I just wrote a whole post about getting her to 60! She's a feral/resto hybrid since I like being able to tank dungeons and heal in raids without respeccing. I expect to have some fun next year gearing her up a bit.

Shintau - PV

  • Level 41 Shaman
  • 5 days, 2 hours played
  • 275 Skinning, 232 Leatherworking, 263 Cooking, 282 Fishing, 260 First Aid
My original Classic main, the resto shaman. Being part of a guild now, she might actually have a future, but levelling as resto is very meh when you're mostly playing solo and there are no dungeon pugs to speak of. Still, I continue to make progress in baby steps - levelling her leatherworking in particular has been fun. And at least she reached 40 and got a mount (which was graciously financed by my hunter).

Shinny - PV

  • Level 36 Mage
  • 3 days, 1 hour played
  • 254 Tailoring, 121 Enchanting, 235 Cooking, 172 Fishing, 255 First Aid
My troll mage is back to having the same job she had in 2019: disenchanting stuff and making bags. I level her a bit every now and then when it feels like her bags are too full and I really need to make some sort of progress. Sometimes I wonder whether it would be good to get her to max level solely because there are very few mages in the guild for some reason - it's not unusual to have a 40-man raid with only a single one.

Gemba - Mirage Raceway

  • Level 19 Warlock
  • 16 hours played
  • 65 Herbalism, 94 Skinning, 2 Cooking, 34 Fishing, 98 First Aid
This is the orc warlock I made to store gems and other valuables - it's in the name! However, I've also levelled her a bit just for fun. I'm actually kind of excited to do the incubus quest line soon, one of the few pieces of content in era to completely deviate from #nochanges.

Fooba - MR

  • Level 16 Warrior
  • 14 hours played
  • 84 Mining, 75 Skinning, 20 Cooking, 1 Fishing, 81 First Aid
My bank alt for food and consumables - again, it's in the name! Also done a bit of levelling but not much.

Tir - Nethergarde Keep

  • Level 9 Rogue
  • 3 hours played
  • 30 Herbalism, 25 Skinning, no secondary professions yet
So I moved/renamed my Alliance characters before Blizzard had finished purging the old clones, which meant that Tir had to become Tirr and Fali became Faly - but then they actually did free up the old names eventually and I had this sudden anxiety about someone else getting "my" name. So I created new characters with names like Tir and Shintar just to hold on to the names. This is the only one I've levelled a bit, because I thought that having a rogue on Horde side as well would be neat.


Aside from the little night elf rogue I created to re-familiarise myself with era, my Alliance characters have seen very little play, but I'm still glad that they're there, so I'll at least list them all this one time to note down where they're at. Who knows what the future will bring?

Tirrona - MR 

  • Level 34 Rogue
  • 2 days, 21 hours played
  • 208 Herbalism, 154 Mining, 175 Cooking, 197 Fishing, 144 First Aid

My night elf rogue turned into a rarely-played side project once I moved to Horde side, but I still love her for being the character that helped me get back into era. Starting over really helped with familiarising myself with the culture and environment of era from the ground up instead of (unsuccessfully) trying to jump straight in with a cloned character at max level.

She's also in a super-casual guild led by an older guy who actually used to play on Hydraxian Waterlords too. I didn't really know him there, but just having that little tie to my past still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tirr - NK

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 36 days, 6 hours played
  • 300 Skinning, 300 (Dragonscale) Leatherworking, 300 Cooking, 300 Fishing, 300 First Aid
I actually joined a guild called <The Old Raiders> on Tirr (my old Classic main), when I still had this idea that I could maybe casually join for the occasional Naxx run or something, but while guilds are clearing Naxx on era, it's not an easy thing to do and understandably they don't want to take any old random who might jeopardise their chances of success. So I thought about how I'd first have to attend x number of other raids to build up a reputation, on top of mainly playing on Horde side and doing other things, and... I just gave up because it sounded like too much effort. I just log into her every now and then to check her mail (I got some arrows crafted "just in case" which I keep sending back and forth between Tirr and Sarelle because I never end up using them) and to use her salt shaker.

Sarelle - NK

  • Level 60 Paladin
  • 20 days, 13 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 300 Weaponsmithing, 300 Cooking, 284 Fishing, 300 First Aid
As my other Naxx-raiding character, Sarelle was subject to similar considerations as Tirr, especially since she had several T3 pieces in her bank that she never got to trade in back in the day due to a perpetual shortage of plate scraps. However, ultimately she's in the same boat as Tirr. I healed a ZG on her and went and won the fishing contest, but that's about it.

Jehna - NK

  • Level 60 Mage
  • 7 days, 13 hours played
  • 295 Tailoring, 250 Enchanting, 281 Cooking, 122 Fishing, 300 First Aid
My mage was that character that hit level 60 just before the expansion pre-patch who never really did anything at max level, and she's still that. About the only thing I did on era was buy her an epic mount, since I realised I had enough gold between my other characters to afford it. Oh, and one time I went and randomly farmed satyrs in Felwood for an hour.

Faly - NK

  • Level 57 Druid
  • 8 days, 21 hours played
  • 300 Herbalism, 300 Alchemy, 292 Cooking, 225 Fishing, 300 First Aid
My night elf druid became one of my favourite alts in Classic BC, but on era she's not even 60. Sadness. I did a few quests and a bit of flower-picking in the Plaguelands at some point, but not enough to make her level.

Shintar - PV

  • Level 30 Priest
  • 1 day, 17 hours played
  • 121 Mining, 141 Engineering, 146 Cooking, 114 Fishing, 142 First Aid
I cloned this one but basically did nothing with her. The memory of how much fun I was having playing priest in Classic BC just before everything fell apart still lingers.

Razorr - PV

  • Level 30 Warrior
  • 1 day, 20 hours played
  • 130 Mining, 178 Skinning, 150 Cooking, 61 Fishing, 150 First Aid
I did do a bit of questing on this one, and played the tank in a three-person Stockades run. Her biggest "achievement" however was being handed 500 gold by a random level 60 in Stormwind who said that he didn't really need it because he wasn't playing anyway. 😅

Tirutak - PV

  • Level 20 Warlock
  • 23 hours played
  • 132 Herbalism, 150 Skinning, 32 Cooking, 27 Fishing, 78 First Aid

This was my little summon alt back in Classic, and also a bit of a silly RP idea as I levelled her purely by farming mobs in the Barrens. I originally left her behind on Hydraxian Waterlords "just in case" anything ever happened over there but eventually decided to just move her as well, because what's the point of a summon alt who's got nobody to summon?

As for what'll happen next year? I do think we'll get a full year of Classic Wrath of the Lich King, but after that: who knows? Either way this hopefully shouldn't affect me too much as I hope that Classic era can continue to just chug along in peace. It would be nice if for once, I won't find myself in a situation a year later where everything's changed completely yet again.


Did the Cloning Service Harm Classic Era?

A few weeks ago there was a bit of a kerfuffle on the Classic era Discord during which a lot of people ended up airing various grievances they had with Blizzard's handling of Classic era. One subject that came up multiple times - very much to my surprise - was the cloning service. As far as I could tell, people had two main complaints about it:

  1. That it cost money to begin with
  2. That it was eventually shut down and all the inactive/unclaimed clones were deleted

Specifically, people seemed to think that those two things put together had a massive impact on the size of era's population, as in: it would be much more active if everyone who ever played the original Classic could return to clones of their previously created characters at any time, for free.

I was honestly pretty surprised by this because I always thought that the cloning service was a pretty decent compromise, and based on my personal experience, I don't think that unlimited, free cloning would have made a significant difference to era's population at all.

To address the second point first: I just don't think that money has been the primary obstacle to Classic players returning to era. Playing any incarnation of Classic requires a subscription to begin with, so Blizzard already has these people's credit card info and they have enough disposable income to afford it. Sure, there will always be that edge case that can just about afford the sub while any extra expenses would be too much, but most people aren't going to be like that. In fact, I think the whole debacle with Classic's server populations - which was largely brought on by paid transfers - showed that people are quite happy to give Blizzard extra money for any perceived advantage.

I also know people who paid to clone their characters to era and then never even played them. In fact, of all my old guildies who I know cloned characters, I'm the only one who actually ended up playing on era. Money was never the problem; time and investment was. MMOs are quite time-consuming as it is, and playing several of them at the same time requires a pretty large investment. It was always clear that the majority of players were going to choose to move forward into TBC, and the idea that more of those players would have also played era on the side if only they didn't have to pay for their clones just seems totally unrealistic to me.

I say this because I was one of the few who wanted to be that person, who paid full price for two clones early on and thought she'd check in on them every now and then even while focusing on Burning Crusade Classic. However, the truth is: it wasn't really feasible. BC (and other games) were already eating so much of my free time, there was precious little left to even consider spending on era, and whenever I did log in, I didn't know what to do with myself. So much of Classic's original appeal was about community, and if you cloned a kitted out level 60 like I did but none of your friends had any interest in playing on era, it wasn't as if you could just randomly log in on a Saturday afternoon and jump into a Naxx pug. With the "mainstream" moving on, Classic era had to build its own community, and getting to know that takes time. Unlimited, free cloning would've just increased the number of people randomly logging in to stand around in Stormwind or Orgrimmar for ten minutes while wondering what to do, but I don't think it would've done much for era's true activity levels.

Now, I'll admit that even that little bit of extra activity still wouldn't have been a bad thing, and in a world with unlimited resources - yeah, sure why not. However, it's worth noting that when Blizzard was first testing the waters for how to handle the transition into Classic Burning Crusade, cloning wasn't even on the table as an option; they were thinking about a straight-up split that forced you to choose one over the other or else start over from zero on a brand-new server. I said back then that in my ideal world, they'd just clone the entire server, though I'm not surprised that didn't turn out to be feasible. When they announced the paid clones, I was just glad that they'd listened enough to at least make character copy an option.

Honestly, knowing what I know now, I think the only reason we got even that much was that Blizzard overestimated how many people would choose to use this feature. I mean, I obviously don't have any numbers, but considering that millions of people signed up for Classic in 2019 and looking at the size of the Classic era community now - it's gotta be a minute number. Even if we consider people like my old guildies who bought clones and never played them, I reckon the service saw minimal use. Even though the creation of Classic era was announced right there on our character selection screens, I think that the vast, vast majority of players didn't give a fig about it.

So again, I'm not at all shocked that Blizzard decided to shut the whole thing down and clear out their database. Yes, I get that this sucks if you played Classic two years ago, never paid any attention to era or any of the news around it and suddenly realise now that you would have liked to clone - but you've got to admit, that's at least partially on you. And yes, in an ideal world, Blizzard would have preserved all those millions of inactive clones somewhere just in case (though I would've still liked them to free up all those inactive character names) but again, if you think about the effort involved just to appease a teeny tiny number of players, I can't blame them for not doing that.

Basically, I'm not saying that there aren't things about Classic era that Blizzard could've handled better... but in terms of the cloning service, I think they did a pretty decent job when you consider player interest and resources, and I think it's quite alright that the feature is gone now. For Classic era to live and successfully continue to develop into its own thing, it needs people to create and level new characters in the here and now - not to forever sit on a pile of abandoned clones in hopes that people will maybe come back to play them one day.


Classic Era Milestones

The other night I hit level 60 for the first time on Classic era. It's not as exciting as it sounds, considering that I already had four 60s from transfers/clones, and this one didn't start era at level one either, but still... the character in question is my tauren druid, who was level 42 when I made the decision to activate her on era, so she "only" had 18 levels left to go, but those did take me quite a while. Considering that I both raid and still want to limit my time spent in Classic to a casual amount of hours, there just aren't that many opportunities to spend time on levelling alts. I'd usually do a bit of questing on an evening here or there, but then I'd go for pretty long periods of time without any progress whatsoever.

What has levelling on Classic era been like compared to OG Classic? Well, in terms of speed it seems to be about the same, as my druid's /played was a bit over nine days, which is about on par with other characters I levelled in Classic. It did feel a lot more... quiet though. The higher-level-but-not-quite-endgame zones are always less populated than the lower-level ones, and with era's lower population that was even more pronounced.

This had both pros and cons: As someone who enjoys gathering, I loved that there were herbs everywhere, and it wasn't unusual that all the yellow dots distracted me from actual questing for a while. Selling some of those spoils on the auction house was a good money-maker too. Competition for quest mobs was never an issue, and I ran into many rares.

The downside of course is that it's much harder to find people to do group quests with, and it's easy for your quest log to become quite cluttered with them. The ones that were important to me I usually managed to get done eventually by asking guildies for help after a while.

Dungeons are in a similar place and I didn't get to run as many of them as I would have liked, though I did heal Zul'Farrak once and tanked both a Sunken Temple and a BRD run. People are running dungeons, at max level too, it's just that on an individual level, the lower population kind of requires the stars to align in just the right way, especially if you have limited time to play. It's not unusual to ask whether anyone's interested in a dungeon in guild or LFG and get no response, or to encounter the even more frustrating opposite: meaning that you finally see a group setting out for a dungeon you need, but you yourself can't join at that particular moment because you need to log off in ten minutes. Basically as I've said before, there's nothing you can't get done in Classic era, but it often requires patience.

I will note that despite the slowness and frequent solitude, I didn't find the fifties to be a drag or struggle at all. I remember mentioning in the past that I used to not be a fan of this level range as I don't particularly love many of the vanilla endgame zones, and when the solo quests start to dry up, everything feels increasingly grindy in general. However, I've also noted in the past that if you do have an interest in grouping and your eye on raiding eventually, it goes a lot easier as there are things like attunements to work towards that provide you with alternative goals to simply gaining XP. For example my guildies let me tag along to an UBRS at level 55 which allowed me to get my BWL attunement done early, and nobody minded me signing up to heal AQ20 at level 58/59 either.

There was a particularly sweet bit of synchronicity to my druid's first raid at level 60 as well. When I joined the Warriors of Sunlight back in July, Garr dropped a Thunderfury binding in one of my first MC runs and I remember that being one of the first really exciting moments I experienced with the guild. Well, this week I decided to switch to my druid for our weekly binding run, and Geddon's binding dropped... meaning that the guy who got the Garr binding back in July could finally complete his Thunderfury.

I've written in the past about how the creation of a Thunderfury is always a special occasion: how it made me feel connected to my first Classic guild even when I didn't really fit in otherwise, and how similar yet different it was when the Forks serendipitously managed to finally get a Thunderfury just in time for the release of Naxx. In the same vein, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy to help with and bear witness to Tefflar of WoS getting his Thunderfury - it's not the guild's first one and it won't be the last, but it was my first with them and felt like a nice way of putting a capstone on my first few months spent with the guild and in Classic era in general.


A Little MC Adventure

Raid nights with the Warriors of Sunlight are often full of surprises. The only fixed destination is Naxx on Sundays, which I usually can't make, so you never quite know what's going to be on the menu on the other two main raid days. I guess in an ideal world we'd be able to knock out MC, BWL and AQ40 every week, but we don't live in an ideal world, and neither sign-ups nor group comp are always what we'd like them to be, so we do whatever seems feasible at the time.

This is why we found ourselves entering Molten Core with just Ragnaros left alive at the start of last week's Tuesday raid. The idea was to knock him out quickly and then move on to AQ40 for the remainder of the evening. However, as soon as people started stepping into the instance, there were disturbed mutterings about all the trash being alive again. I tried to remember whether I'd previously had any first-hand experience with this but couldn't recall for sure. Was this even abnormal? Either way I wasn't really worried, as I had been there for the rest of the MC run the previous Thursday and had seen all the other bosses die.

While we were carving our way through the same bunch of giants, elementals and so on for the second time, there was some amused commentary about the fact that someone from the PvP cluster had decided to advertise for their Naxx speed-running guild in our LFG chat. I mean, good for them, but considering that nobody on Horde side on our cluster is even clearing Naxx right now, it gave off vibes of the advertiser not really knowing who they were talking to.

We made it to Ragnaros' Lair and... it was empty. As in, Majordomo Executus, the NPC that's required to summon him, wasn't there. This immediately gave rise to confused speculation.

"Oh no, I hope we didn't miss our chance to summon him this week. There was this rumour that you only had a limited-time window to do so after killing Majordomo..."

"Did we forget to douse one of the runes?"

"No, we did douse all the runes, and we did fight Majordomo..." [The boss doesn't even spawn until all the other boss's fiery runes have been extinguished.]

A druid and a rogue volunteered to sneak to where Majordomo's boss fight took place, in case we had just forgotten to talk to him and he was still hanging out there. This seemed to be working okay until...

"I'll just distract that one..."

"You pulled!"

And then they were both dead. The ranks were surveyed for new stealthers to send to their potential doom and a rogue played by an officer was picked next. However, even as he was happily ambling along and assuring us that he was going to be fine, more discussions ensued about how it was clearly impossible to stealth the whole thing and that we needed to help him! I wasn't really fully taking this in since I was just idling near the raid leader's holy priest, but over time a trail of people started to follow in our rogue's steps... so it wasn't until I looked up at my raid frames and saw a lot of people rapidly losing health and dying that I really noticed what was going on. Same for the raid leader, incidentally:

"I said to wait! Why did you all follow him?"

"Well, the tanks were going and my job as a healer is to go where the tanks go and heal them..."

While people recovered from the partial wipe I had to chuckle to myself thinking of that Naxx speed-running advert again, trying to recruit people who were dying in MC. Around this time the rogue made it to Majordomo and confirmed that he was indeed there... however, he couldn't just talk to the big lizard as apparently the boss had used the four-day break between raids to revive all his minions from the boss encounter as well.

So in the end, we did all have to fight our way to Majordomo together, kill his cronies again, and then send him to Rag's Lair. Some people were hopeful that he'd drop loot again at least, but his loot chest was gone of course.

Raggy himself was fast and smooth after that, but instead of the "quick kill" we'd hoped for at the beginning of the night, it took three quarters of an hour to get to that point. Still, I can't claim that I minded, because the whole situation had just been too funny. I'm still not entirely sure whether it was a bug or something, but I found this forum thread from September 2019 in which someone else also expressed confusion after running into this situation, and several people claimed that you only have an hour after defeating Majordomo to summon Ragnaros or else he's known to reset and respawn his adds. The more you know! Who says you can't run into surprises and have novel adventures in an old game?


Dragonflight Is a Vibe

So Dragonflight launched a week ago now, though it barely took two days for the first "I'm 70 now and here's what I think" posts to show up on my timeline. While I was excited to dive into it as well, the husband and I were slowed down by the fact that we took turns suffering from a horrible cold last week that left us too tired and ill to even spend much time playing video games on some days, but we did get there in the end.

While the husband decided that evoker wasn't really for him and went back to maining his demon hunter, I opted to venture forth into the dragon isles on my new dracthyr first. I still like my monk too, but it just seemed thematically appropriate to take a dragon to the Dragon Isles (and I quickly came across some dracthyr-only side quests too). Plus I'm not gonna lie: the thought of being able to start a new expansion with completely empty bags was very appealing as well.

If I tell you that I've been having a pretty good time so far that won't really say much, considering that I also thought Shadowlands was okay from a casual point of view, despite of the many ways in which people seemed to end up hating it in the end. However, I will say this: Dragonflight is definitely different. There was a nice quote in a recent Taliesin & Evitel video that I sadly can't find right now but which went something like: "Dragonflight made me feel more nostalgic than Classic Wrath of the Lich King". Now, Taliesin is always excited about new WoW content, no matter what, but that particular sentiment struck me as interesting and stuck with me.

I thought of it again when I read about Kaylriene's launch day woes with the boat (something that we were spared, coming into the whole thing several days later) and it hit me that Dragonflight is the first expansion since Wrath of the Lich King where going to the new zones does not require you to do a painfully on-rails introductory quest chain or scenario; you can literally just take the boat and be there. Sure, on the Isles themselves, there's still a main storyline to follow and all that, but you don't feel quite as boxed in from the get-go.

The mood set by the quests and NPCs also couldn't be more different from the start of Shadowlands with its world-ending threat coming seemingly out of nowhere and requiring you to go to literal hell. Sure, there are threats to deal with on the Dragon Isles too - we know about the Primalists from the pre-expansion event for one thing - but they feel much more "manageable" for lack of a better word. To go back to the nostalgia comment, it reminded me how Elwynn Forest has gnolls and Defias, but you also help out a couple in love and feed a naughty kid a pork pie. The general vibe upon landing in the Dragon Isles is one of curiosity and optimism, and many of the side quests are downright wholesome. At one point I was joking to the husband that I was fine with leaving the dragons under attack a bit longer (as part of the main storyline) because we had frogs to save.

The complete lack of an Alliance vs. Horde conflict also plays into that. In fact, I squealed with delight when I met Captain Garrick and her son from Exile's Reach in the starter camp, and she gives you a short quest to introduce yourself to her Horde equivalent and there's some dialogue about how they're gonna have a meal together some time.

You get the feeling that Blizzard really wanted to use this expansion to slaughter a bunch of cows that had become (unnecessarily) sacred over the years. The Alliance and Horde always need to be at war? Nope, let's just not bother this time. No flying until you've "worked" for it? Nope, you gain dragon riding a few mini-hubs in and can then use it freely across the whole Isles. There must never be an auction house in a new hub city, to make sure that people are forced to go back to the old world and keep it alive? Nope, they just put an auction house in Valdrakken without much fanfare.

It feels refreshing and nostalgic at the same time, in the sense that it's reminiscent of a time when the devs used to be more daring and didn't seem to have quite so many self-imposed rules about how they can never do X or Y because of some past complaint that they never want to hear again - it's just been such a long time since that was the case that it almost feels like an entirely new concept.

I can't speak for what the endgame will be like of course... though the fact that it's been simplified to focus on gear and rep again for the first time in many years actually encourages me to at least give it a try. At least I "get" those things as opposed to conduits or whatever. I also like the renewed focus on professions, because even though I haven't yet really figured out how it all works and whether it's any good, as someone who enjoys both gathering and crafting, it's just been nice to see Blizzard give those systems some love again.